Michael Garin appointed CEO of twofour54 Abu Dhabi

Media mogul says he will continue to help grow the media sector in Abu Dhabi

Michael Garin has more than 50 years' experience in the media industry. Courtesy twofour54
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Media mogul Michael Garin has been announced as the new chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi's twofour54.

Mr Garin, who joined Abu Dhabi film production company Image Nation in 2011, is noted as one of the key players that has helped transform the capital’s media industry.

Taking over from Maryam AlMheiri, who was appointed vice-chair woman of the media and entertainment hub in July 2019, Mr Garin will also work alongside Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

With a number of accolades to his name, a career highlight came in 2019 when Image Nation project, Free Solo, bagged the Best Documentary Feature title at the 91st Academy Awards.

Depicting rock climber Alex Honnold's incredible ascent of Yosemite's El Capitan vertical rock formation in the United States, Mr Garin likened the documentary to his ambitious visions for the future.

“I want to continue to help grow the media sector in Abu Dhabi and ensure our creative community can climb high and bring their ideas to life,” he said.

Years ago, people were willing to accept poor quality when it came to [local] content in the Middle East. Today, they are no longer willing to compromise

Since moving to the UAE 13 years ago, Mr Garin has noted the growth of digitisation, which has led to a massive shift in the way content is created and consumed.

“Years ago, people were willing to accept poor quality when it came to content that had local relevance in the Middle East. Today, they are no longer willing to compromise.

“What has made the UAE media scene successful is the mix of international expertise with local knowledge.”

Mr Garin said he hopes to create “better synergy” across Abu Dhabi’s film and production free zone and create opportunities for people to expand on their expertise.

With a focus on developing creative skills, he said by “integrating the industry more seamlessly", it will translate to a better regional talent pool and production output.

“When you look at the credit calls at the end of any film or TV show, the cast list makes up the minority.

Image Nation project 'Free Solo' was named Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards last year. Courtesy Image Nation Abu Dhabi

“It’s the technical and production skills that bring a great production together. In this new role I’m excited to focus on the cohesive development that goes into honing those skills."

During his time at Image Nation, he said he never felt like he was working for a company.

"I was working for Abu Dhabi. That’s why the role was so important to me and why this new role is too.

“Abu Dhabi has taken giant strides in becoming the creative hub for Arabic language film and television. It has really carved out a niche for itself.

“Strengthening that reputation on a wider international scale is very achievable.”

From a city that had few Emiratis with expertise in film, it is now one with many. And others are chomping at the bit to get on board.

“Patience is one of the key qualities I have come to admire when it comes to my Emirati colleagues.

“They are so ready to learn, so ready to start small and aim big. They don’t want the big titles straight away, they want the expertise. I am here to give them that.”

While some have said ongoing policies around promotion of the local workforce have created a skills gap, Mr Garin the UAE leadership's efforts towards Emiratisation had done wonders for the industry.

“Where in some places people have a sense of urgency to climb the career ladder despite not being ready, Emiratis have been given time to build their skills.

“What they don’t lack is desire and ambition.”